• Inside Out: Abbotsford Christian School Blog, Karen vanEgmond

Toonie Party, Please

By |2014-01-08T04:20:46+00:00January 8, 2014|Elementary, Parenting|

You may already know this, but there is a lot riding on a birthday party.

So, when someone says they’re having a party in the ACS gym, I am thrilled. And then, when they tell me it’s a toonie party, my heart almost skips a beat.

Why? Well, let me invite you into a moment in my week…

So, I get this text from E’s teacher:

Is E going to B’s birthday after school?
Yes and I’ll bring a present. Pick up 4:30 I’m assuming.
Yes. Pick up 4:30. B’s mom was wondering.
Yes. Thanks.

Of course, I don’t get any information home from school, so knew nothing about the party. I don’t have time to stop on the way home to get a present and have no cash in my wallet (except a toonie, incidentally). But, this is a present party. Oh, the pressure!

So, I do the only thing I can think of in this moment and scrounge through my desk to come up with a present for the birthday girl. This is one of those times I’m glad I’m a teacher! I find a gift bag and start collecting all the things in my classroom that I know I have purchased on my own.

A box of new crayons, some coloured paper, a dozen candies, a nose flute (yes, a nose flute), a kooshie pen, a few fancy pencils and a Happy Birthday bookmark. My smug smile of satisfaction proves victory over the present crisis! How could any kid not love this collection of teacher-desk items?!?

I drive across town and even make it in time for pick-up (I’ll leave my “I never get anywhere on time since I’ve had kids” post for another day) and run breathless into the gym. Here, I am confronted with confused looks from the parents who have been helping out at the party.

I scan the room for my child.

Me: “Where’s E?”
“She didn’t come.”
“She’s not here?”
“I think she went home on the bus.”
“I wish she was here.”


My lame present just started looking lamer.
Smug smile gone.
Phone home. Recount the story of this to E, who is home, playing Lego. I also mention that I gave her friend a gift bag full of treasures. Then E says, “Why did you do that Mom? I gave her a card already.”

True story.

So, how can our gift-giving be a mindful act of sharing and celebration? (Don’t get me wrong here, I love giving and getting presents! But, I am struggling with the notion of getting more than we give). I am thankful for a school that encourages this. But, my kids don’t need more stuff. So, I encourage the toonie party. One less thing to buy. It’s a simple token of showing that you care to spend time and celebrate with me.

FYI…My kids will be having birthdays in the ACS gym.
If you’re invited, pick up is at 4:30…and, please bring a toonie.


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Karen Wilson

Your story rings true to my ears. I also love the Toonie party and the food for the food bank party! It really is humbling when our children want their friends to bring food for the food bank instead of presents.